NBC's upcoming reality series "The Baby Borrowers" is an intriguing new social experiment based on the hit British program that asks five diverse teenage couples -- ages 18-20 -- to fast-track to adulthood by setting up a home, getting a job and becoming caring parents first to babies, toddlers, pre-teens and their pets, teenagers and senior citizens -- all over the course of three weeks.
As the social experiment begins, the five young volunteer couples are asked to literally grow up overnight when they are each given a home in a quiet cul-de-sac outside Boise, Idaho and attend pre-natal classes as each "mother" wears a simulated "empathy" belly to prepare them for the arrival of their "baby."
When a real baby (all aged six-11 months old) appears at their door -- courtesy of five pairs of real volunteer parents (some of whom were teen parents themselves) who entrust their infants to one of the couples -- the nervous, fumbling teens are in for three long, arduous days that make chilling out a distant memory. They must stick to rigid routines, handle the feeding chores, diaper duty and crying jags that might be shared by baby and teens -- all the while under 24-hour supervision by nannies and the real parents who are stationed next door, watching via monitor, and able to step in at any time. Plus, one teen from each of the couples must start a job, ranging from working in a local vet's office to a lumberyard, leaving the other alone as caregiver for the day.
After three surprising, intense days, each teen couple will bid bye-bye to the baby and receive a toddler as their fast-forward adult life progresses. They will have to cope with typical "terrible twos" behavior, including pouty tantrums, potty training and other messes. Three days later, the weary couples must face the reality of parenting several sassy pre-teens/"tweeners" at once -- each with a family pet in tow, adding to their responsibilities.
Seventy-two hours later, the teenagers arrive, thereby perhaps providing them with a mirror image of their own recent relationships with their parents. To complete the cycle of life, the experiment ends with as couples are graced with the opportunity to care for a senior citizen, including some with health issues, who represent what might be in store for them in the distant future.
Through this emotional, dramatic journey, each young couple will get a unique opportunity to peer into the future and see what they (and their partners) might be like if they remain together and decide to build a family. Tested by the everyday ups and downs of taking care of others and maintaining a relationship, most of the teens find themselves looking at all of their relationships and notions of parenthood in a new light.
"The Baby Borrowers" is produced by Love Productions. Richard McKerrow (the U.K.'s "Cirque de Celebrite") and Tom Shelly ("Survivor") are executive producers.